A recent Reuters survey revealed a marked upsurge in German anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments, with more than one in four of those polled equating Israel’s policies towards Palestinians with Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews during World War II.
The survey on xenophobia in Germany is carried out biannually by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and has previously shown a downward trend in anti-Semitism over the last decade.
Survey results showed a spike in negative views towards Jews and Israel between June and September, when Israel was at war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
When respondents were asked in September if they believed Jews were partly responsible for their own persecution as a result of their actions, 18 percent agreed, up from less than 8% in June.
Over 27% of the 1,915 Germans polled in September said that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was equivalent to Jewish persecution during World War II.
Additionally, one in five said that Israel’s policies made Jews in general less likable.
“The lines between anti-Semitism and substantive criticism of Israel are becoming blurred and that is a problem,” the Friedrich Ebert Foundation wrote in a statement, according to Reuters.
The survey results were released only days after Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that European anti-Semitism was on the rise, inflamed by unrest and violence in the Middle East.
Steinmeier, who was speaking at an international conference on anti-Semitism, said that Jews across the continent encounter increasing threats and attacks by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, and reached an unprecedented high during Israel’s summer war in Gaza.
Slogans like “Gas the Jews!” were heard at some anti-Israel rallies across Europe, and in July a synagogue in Wuppertal was targeted by Molotov cocktails.
In 1938, Wuppertal’s synagogue was burned down in Kristallnacht, a night of widespread attacks against Jews and their property in Germany.
“Bold and brutal anti-Semitism has shown its ugly face again,” Steinmeier reiterated to EU representatives at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference last week.
At the same conference, Karen Polak of Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House also voiced her concern at the increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, saying that there was “lots of outspoken violence against Jews who obviously have no responsibility for the policies of the state of Israel.”
“You see it time and time again – when tension in the Middle East rises, anti-Semitic incidents in Europe rise,” Polak told delegates.